Renee Heartfelt - Death of the Ghost (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Renee Heartfelt

Death of the Ghost (2005)


It's always a bit up in the air when former members of hardcore bands start new projects. Could be a great new hardcore band, or it could sound absolutely nothing like the bands who proceeded it. Mark Renee Heartfelt into the latter of those categories.

Spawning from the ashes of Give Up the Ghost, Striking Distance, and Count Me Out, Renee Heartfelt's Death of the Ghost is a post-hardcore album brimming with melody and intensity. Post-hardcore akin to Failure and early Elliott, not whatever bastardization that genre label has undertaken as of late. The heart and emotion in "Kerosene" is just as present, and just as noticeable as those same elements in "Sirens." No matter the pace or rhythms in the particular song, those are two descriptors that are never irrelevant. On that basis, Renee Heartfelt are able to expand and craft some truly engaging songs. Exuding an almost hypnotic feel, the singer's voice soars far over the extremely solid instrumentation. Every member of the band has a tight, crisp feel to their delivery, from the deep bass tones to the simple but effective drumming, there's nobody that has to carry extra weight, nobody that has to bring up the rear.

So the songs are tight, the singer has a terrific voice, but what's beyond that? A hell of a lot, as anyone who's willing to listen will quickly discover. The compelling arrangements and subtle harmonies are leaps and bounds ahead of anyone else currently playing this style, and it shows. The band is seemingly comfortable no matter the pace of the song, and that's something that says a lot for the band as songwriters, and the amount they've matured since their last recorded output. They're comfortable in their shoes, and the singer's voice has hit every note it needed to. Upbeat, driving tracks like "Rush" display a band that hasn't forgotten their roots in the world of punk and hardcore, and they can obviously still rock out when the time calls for it. While the vocals are still delivered at a somewhat normal pace, the underlying rhythm section is firing on all cylinders, and has never sounded better.

The guitar work as a whole on the album is something to really be impressed with, as though it's not overly complex, it could not possibly suit the music any better. The swirling rhythms and layered harmonies just get better by the song, and while I wish they'd really let completely loose, as with "Rush" a bit more often, I really can't muster any other complaints about that. They've hit it, plain and simple. They've done what they needed to do with all the instrumentation to record an extremely solid product. They close things out with an extremely slow, moving track in which the singer's voice is really given time to shine, and in that light, he more than succeeds.

I'd have rather Give Up the Ghost and Striking Distance not broken up at all, but with this release, I can rest assured that some of those talents are going to a damn good use.